Have you heard of the movie, Logistics? It was a Swedish experimental film created by Erika Magnusson and Daniel Andersson in 2012. But what’s so special about this particular movie, and why are we talking about it?
At 51,420 minutes (857 hours or 35 days and 17 hours), Logistics is the longest film ever made! And believe it or not, that’s what the pandemic felt like.
It felt like a movie, where we were restless to know how this ends. Or when does this end? Or, does it ever end?! At least, in the movie, we could hit pause and take a break, probably step outside too. The pandemic didn’t offer us that choice.
Regardless, if you end up watching 51,420 minutes of screen time, what follows next? Physical and mental exhaustion. Absolute fatigue paired with a restless mind. And now, even after the movie is (almost) over (in this case, we mean the pandemic), we’re all so tired. We feel drained all the time. And unfortunately, doing all the things that we believed would make us extremely happy, there’s a tinge of sadness attached to it.
But, here we are. Cutting it close to two years. In its true sense, it seems like life is back to normal. (fingers crossed). Schools and offices have reopened. Restaurants and parks have reopened. But while we all should be happy and grateful that the worst is behind us, it still feels like we are in an uncertain place. And it’s taking each of us time to say, “I’m not okay.”
While we only focused on eating our salads and getting as much exercise as we could at home, and managing our daily chores, no one realized the pandemic’s impact on our mental health over the months.
Exhausted even after adequate rest?
Did the above sentence also make you wonder – why are we so tired all the time? Even if you get 8-9 hours of sleep, it feels like you’re dragging yourself through the entire day.
Carl Lambert, MD, Assistant Professor at Rush University Medical Center, says, “If you have increased isolation from loved ones, co-workers and people with whom you used to have bonds, burnout and fatigue can make you feel like those things aren’t worth it anymore. “Then, probably the most noteworthy one for me as a professional is a sense of ineffectiveness in life,” he said. “Those three things make a really dangerous combination because it can turn your fatigue into maladaptive behavior.”
This fatigue can exhaust you. It can tire your soul and make you emotionally distant from your loved ones. And it may seem very confusing at the same time because you believe that easing down on restrictions will be like the pre-COVID world. But it’s quite the opposite.
“Mental health has been suffering, and it’s partly that loss of social connection, but it also stinks to be inside all the time, and it makes sense that COVID fatigue is hitting,” said Dr. Yap, a member of the AMA Ambassador Program. “This is a completely normal thing to experience, so if you need to seek mental health care resources, do that too.”
For some, it’s still a work-from-home life
During the pandemic, most people were working from home. And soon, the management at companies realized that this was turning out to be more productive. After an entire generation of working jobs revolved around the 9-5 dilemma, it took a pandemic to realize that working from home proved to be more fruitful for a particular section of people worldwide.
But, the other lot continue their jobs from home. Even after restrictions have died down, their lives are now remote working.
While this may seem like the ultimate dream, most people miss the office. They miss the watercooler talks, lunch sharing, or simply engaging in the office gossip.
Now, we have a new work environment. It is wake-up-in-the-morning, work, and go-to-bed-life. This can cause extreme frustration and fatigue for a few because this almost seems like we’re stuck at home again due to the pandemic.
“As humans, we like to have something we’re moving towards, and when we don’t even know when the endpoint of something is, how can we move towards it?” says Dr Yap, adding that one way is to change from pajamas into clothes or move from the bedroom to the living room to “help you feel like you have some sort of change that you’re experiencing throughout the day.”
How do we snap out of it?
We wish it was as simple as that. But subconsciously, tackling this fatigue is a growing challenge. As children, most of us were not taught the importance of mental health, and now, we need to understand and deal with it more than ever. But the good news is that there is an increase in the number of people seeking help. Which only means we’re heading in the right direction.
You cannot snap out of it. But you can do a few things that’ll help you feel better.
- First things first. It would help if you committed to making yourself feel better. Nothing will help you if you’re lazy and whining about how exhausted you are all the time. Set a clear intention and make a promise to yourself. At the end of the day, it’s going to benefit you.
- You know how they say meditation can change your life. They’re right. It is amazing how a few minutes in silence and focusing on your breathing can make you feel better. It is healthy for your physical health, but it does wonders for your anxious mind too. “It really comes down to: I’m showing up, I have compassion in my heart, and I’m doing the best that I can,” says Dr Lambert. “Even though we’re fatigued, there are some things that we should still be grateful for.” (Also, retake a look at step 1. Commitment to meditation will help. Just a few days of practice won’t give you the peace you are looking for.)
- After a point, you’ll need to stop the negative talk. Yes, we did not imagine that the world would see a pandemic in our lifetime, but it did happen. Have faith that from this day forward, it is going to get better. Practice positive affirmations. Changing and adapting to a positive mindset is vital. This will help change your overall mood, and the fatigue will also wear off.
- The concept of self-care feels unnatural to people. Almost unheard of. But taking care of your mind, body, and soul is imperative. We need to grasp the concept of spending some time by ourselves and doing things we truly enjoy.
- Most importantly, the concept of pandemic fatigue isn’t fiction. If we cannot control it, we need professional help.
No matter what, focusing on the well-being of our mental health is the key to happiness. If anything, it might just prepare us for the next pandemic. (screams internally).